Victory Over the Sun

Kilpatrick, Connor

Publisher:  Jacobin
Date Written:  31/08/2017
Year Published:  2017  
Resource Type:  Article
Cx Number:  CX21659

Postwar America's greatest environmentalist Tony Mazzocchi (who passed away in 2002) was a labour leader.



Mazzocchi and his union, the Oil, Chemical and Atomic Workers International (OCAW), were the primary muscle behind the 1970 Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA), signed into law by Richard Nixon. Looking back on that victory, which mobilized both labor and the burgeoning environmental movement, Mazzocchi said: "We have demonstrated that an unpopular idea can be generated into a powerful political program that’ll reignite the consciousness of the American people."

When the postwar boom was fizzling out, Mazzocchi -- one of the few officials in the labor movement who bought into neither Cold War anticommunism nor business unionism -- wanted to push harder: "workers should be ready to learn about the problems of capitalism." And in the last decades of his life, Mazzocchi cofounded the Labor Party -- whose 1996 convention saw Jeremy Corbyn taking the stage in Cleveland to declare it "one of the most hopeful and inspiring events I've been to in very many years." Much like Sanders, Mazzocchi was a survivor of decades of left retreat -- a Brooklyn Red from another era who, somehow, managed to stay fighting so that when the Left was ready, he was there. And with the appearance of the environmental movement, Mazzocchi saw an opening.
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